Viet Nam | Climate Change
Solar Power Meets Hydropower
Viet Nam’s Da Nhim-Ham Thuan-Da Mi Hydro Power Joint Stock Company installed floating solar panels over the reservoir of a hydropower plant to address the country’s increasing demand for electricity. A unique financing package from ADB, Canada, and Japan supported the project.
- ADB $17.6 million
- Da Nhim - Ham Thuan - Da Mi Hydro Power Joint Stock Company
- Financing Partners
- Canadian Climate Fund for the Private Sector in Asia $11 million
- Canadian Climate Fund for the Private Sector in Asia II $4 million
- Leading Asia's Private Infrastructure Fund $4.4 million
26 September 2019
Viet Nam is building a robust clean energy market. The government has a concrete National Power Development Plan 2011–2020, which promotes the development of non-hydro renewable energy sources. Policies and mechanisms that incentivize the development of wind and solar energy are in place. The private sector is ripe for the challenge, but domestic financing is limited.
The push for private sector participation in Viet Nam’s transition to clean energy is due largely to the increasing consumer demand for electricity, averaging 12% annually between 2005–2015 and projected to grow at more than 8% annually through 2030. Apart from this, the country has started importing coal because domestic supplies have been insufficient to meet the higher domestic power demand, despite the country’s large coal, oil, and natural gas reserves. The southern half of the country has begun to have power shortages during the dry season. Viet Nam is no longer the big net energy exporter it once was.
In 2017, in a bid to attract more investors and accelerate investments, the government offered a generous 20-year feed-in tariff (FIT) of $0.0935 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for solar photovoltaic projects. But there was a deadline. Developers wishing to avail of FIT needed to reach commercial operation by 30 June 2019. The imposed deadline led to a surge in private sector activity.
The Da Nhim-Ham Thuan-Da Mi Hydro Power Joint Stock Company (DHD) was one of those developers. Immediately, DHD sought financing partners to build a 47.5 megawatt (MW) peak floating solar power facility, the first in Viet Nam. In 2018, ADB approved a $17.6 million loan for the Viet Nam: Floating Solar Energy Project, supported by an attractive financing package that included $15 million of blended concessional cofinancing provided by the Canadian Climate Fund for the Private Sector in Asia (CFPS) and its follow-on fund, the Canadian Climate Fund for the Private Sector in Asia II. The package also included a $4.4 million parallel loan from the Leading Asia’s Private Infrastructure Fund (LEAP), supported by Japan International Cooperation Agency.
The Floating Solar Energy Project represents a unique financing partnership among ADB, its traditional donors, and a private sector partner. It is one of the first renewable energy projects that ADB has financed on a nonsovereign basis without the Government of Viet Nam’s guarantee.
Viet Nam has been actively pushing its private sector to explore solar power technology to support the country’s urgent need to increase generation capacity and promote low emissions energy sources. The private sector is faced with the challenge of providing customers with reliable electricity and meeting future demand. DHD stepped up to meet this challenge.
DHD beat the government’s deadline and completed the installation of the 47.5 MW peak floating solar photovoltaic power generation panels on the reservoir of its existing 175 MW Da Mi hydropower plant. This is supported by a new floating central inverter, a grounded substation, and a 3.5 kilometer 110 kilovolt transmission line to connect with the national grid. The floating solar panels were operational by June 2019, and the facility became the largest installation in Southeast Asia.
Concessional financing from the CFPS under ADB’s Clean Energy Financing Partnership Facility was to offset the higher installation costs of a floating solar project compared to land-mounted solar projects and the need to import most of the equipment. The parallel loan from the LEAP ensured the delivery of high quality and sustainable private sector infrastructure that reduces carbon emissions and improve energy efficiency.
Progressive in its employment and community outreach practices, DHD incorporated a few gender equality elements in the project. For instance, it provided gender-disaggregated employment reporting and promoted equal opportunity in employment. DHD also developed a Community Development Action Plan that aims to provide scholarships for girls/women, increase the use of renewable energy at public facilities in the nearby communities, create funded activities to support ethnic minorities and women’s empowerment, and increase health education and infectious disease prevention in communities in the project-affected area. DHD will enter into a 20-year power purchase agreement with Vietnam Electricity, the state-owned power utility, to sell power generated by the solar facility to the grid using the FIT regime.
The floating solar power facility is estimated to generate 63 gigawatt-hour (GWh) of renewable energy per year and lower carbon emissions by 30,302 tCO2e (tons of carbon dioxide equivalent) annually. Solar power is a welcome addition to Viet Nam’s energy mix and directly complements hydropower. The solar power plant generates electricity during daytime and the hydropower plant generates power during peak hours at night. During the dry season when reservoir water levels are low, the solar power plant can use the existing hydropower plant’s transmission line.
The successful implementation of the project provides a strong demonstration impact, could generate momentum for subsequent renewable energy investments, and could catalyze long-term loans from international commercial banks and other development finance institutions.
“This project will help boost the share of renewable energy in Viet Nam’s overall energy mix and decrease the dependence on imported fossil fuels such as coal,” said ADB Private Sector Operations Department Deputy Director General Mr. Christopher Thieme. “The pairing of these two clean energy technologies—hydropower and solar—is a simple but a highly innovative achievement, which can be replicated elsewhere in Viet Nam and across Asia and the Pacific.”
In July 2020, Da Mi Floating Solar won the IJGlobal Awards 2019 for Innovation in the Asia Pacific. IJGlobal (Infrastructure Journal and Project Finance Magazine) provides market leading intelligence for the energy and infrastructure finance industry.
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